Update on Discards from North Coast Salmon Fisheries
With half the fishing season over, commercial fishermen on BC’s North and Central coasts have discarded an estimated 165,000 sockeye, coho, and chum salmon in directed pink salmon fisheries. DFO does not have an estimate of how many of the discards will survive but acknowledge that mortality is likely high.
Sockeye and chum stocks returning to many areas of the North and Central Coasts are depressed and of significant conservation concern. A recent study states that returns to the Skeena River were 39 to 52 times as large when the industrial fishery began compared to the present.
North Coast salmon – along with other salmon and steelhead – are caught and discarded as bycatch during commercial fisheries for the more abundant pink salmon. Pink salmon fisheries are currently open in Portland Canal
north of Prince Rupert, in northern parts of the Great Bear Rainforest, and parts of the inside passage north of Port Hardy: DFO Areas 3, 6, and 8.
DFO Policy and the Marine Stewardship Council Certification of BC’s Pink salmon fisheries require verifiable estimates using at-sea observers. DFO Policy and the academic literature state a minimum of 20% of the catch should be independently verified. Thus far in 2013 the percentage of the catch that has been independently verified has ranged from 0 to 5%.
For a full report of salmon currently been discarded in north coast pink salmon fisheries please see North Coast Discards to August 4th completed by Greg Taylor of the Pacific Salmon Foundation.